Thursday, March 29, 2012

Building a House in Mexico

This is not a pretty post, with arranged vignettes, elegant tablesettings, or beautiful flowers. But it's real life. 

During spring break, our church's youth group (and many others in Canada and the USA) forms a team to go to the Baja California region of Mexico to build a simple house for someone who can't afford it. In the above photo, the structure to the right, an old trailer, is where our family had been living. You'll also see the cement pad in the center, where the new house will stand.

40 of us left Victoria on a morning ferry to Vancouver where a coach bus drove us 2.5 hours to the Seattle airport. After a 3 hour flight we landed in San Diego where we spent the night. The next day we piled into 4 large vans and drove to San Quintin. 

On Monday morning the work began. The team leaders had everything well organized and soon the students (and adults) were painting, measuring, and sawing. 

The neighbourhood children loved interacting with the students. Some got right into the painting (I'm sure their mothers weren't too happy when they arrived home paint spattered.) There were songs and games, and time for a little piggy backing.

When the walls were being lifted, the woman for whom the house was being built helped to raise them. She is such a humble woman.

And what did Yours Truly do? Well, I wired the house. Yep, me. I kind of enjoyed it. The team leader is an electrical engineer and extremely patient. He told me what to do, step by step, and so I installed the metal boxes, drilled holes in the studs, ran the wire, stripped the ends and wrapped them appropriately, installed the switches, outlets and cover plates. And in the end, when the power was turned on - it worked! 

Another one of my tasks was speaking Spanish and being the go-between. I loved the opportunity to use my Spanish again. I asked Mele (the woman for whom we were building) about the things she needed in the house. She was very impassive, not showing any emotion as we discussed beds, kitchen stuff and more.

Then I asked her if she would be interested in having a small chicken coop and some chickens. Her face lit up with a huge smile and she said, "me gusta!" several times. I think that was my favorite moment of the whole trip. A little wire cage and 6 chicks were something she couldn't imagine providing for herself.  

And here is the finished house. Mele chose the colour. Two talented girls on the team painted a lovely house sign for her. It's humble, probably none of my readers would be content to live in such a home, I know that I wouldn't be, yet it's a huge improvement from Mele's previous home.

Here's a photo of the interior. The main room is both kitchen and living room, with two bedrooms in the back. It's almost like a home makeover in that we made the bedrooms up with new beds, bedding and curtains, provided some new kitchen equipment and also filled her pantry. 

Crouched on the ground is my electrical teacher, Dave, doing some last minute checking.

Each morning, before heading to the job site, the team spent a few moments journaling. This helped to focus our minds on the reason we were in Mexico - to share, in a small way, the love of Christ. I was so impressed by these students who worked hard, got along well, and did a stellar job.

One last photo, taken through a van window. What you see are fields and fields of strawberries - the ones that come to your grocery store when it's still cold and wintry. In the far distance you can see the workers. When you buy produce from Mexico, be it strawberries, green beans, lettuce, kale or tomatoes, take a moment to think of, and pray for, the workers who provide for you. They have so little compared to us, yet are people with dignity, created in God's image, just as you are. And be grateful.


  1. Your team created a lovely home for Mele. I like it and probably could cheerfully enjoy such a space for the summer. What a great story about you wiring the place! And the chickens. I hope that they do very well for Mele.

  2. What a great work this is! Look at that great kitchen. God bless Mele in her new home.

  3. Wonderful to see your project and snippets of the students interacting with their hosts. I love the kitchen! I think I could adapt to living there! The colors are great! And that you wired the place ... now that is impressive and did you already know or was it a learning curve for you? I'm sure Mele and her family smile a lot in their new home as they remember your ministry to/love for them!

  4. That makes one so aware of all the things we have, and take for granted. It is a wonderful work that you were part of.

  5. What a rewarding project for you to be a part of! I'm happy for her cute new home. And I am most impressed that you wired the house. Well...being a Spanish interpreter is impressive too!

  6. What an absolutely amazing thing for strangers to do for a fellow human being. How to make a difference. I think you have. Well done. xx

  7. Thank you for sharing this story with us Lorrie. I am reminded how fortunate I am here in Canada. Take care..

  8. Anonymous9:44 PM

    My mom just told me about your website today! I didn't realize you were a blogger. Love the strawberry fields photo & the sentiments. I look forward to following your blog!

  9. Thanks for sharing about your trip, Lorrie. I am in awe of your wiring job. Electrical stuff scares me silly. Good job, girl. I love that you came up with the idea of a little chicken coop.

  10. Great inspiring story! Thank you for sharing it with us. So many blog stories are self-focused - which is okay - there is a place to share one's craft, etc.

    Yet you've shown us the love of Christ through one trip to a humble spot in this world to make a new home for a shy woman who loves chicken, and in doing so, transformed her world.

    Hopefully, she'll give thanks to God who provided all the supplies and labor. May she and her neighbors come to know the infinite love of God's Son.
    Happy almost Easter!

  11. How rewarding that must be! And all who participated will carry that contrast back to their daily lives where it will surely give them better appreciation for their own good fortune -- as it reminds your readers we should have. And wow! you must feel great about the wiring.

  12. God bless you for your work in Mexico. Your hands were an extension of God's love to this dear woman. Thank you for going the extra step to making it 'pretty' for her and giving her the chickens.

  13. Wow, what an experience for you all, including Mele! Life changing for everyone.

  14. Praise be to God for this glorious work!

  15. I enjoyed reading this story of your experience helping build a home for a deserving family. Mele will remember you all as good friends who have helped her. It must have made you all so grateful for what you have in your lives.

  16. Brilliant. Here our main mission places are Africa and India.


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